Like many top carpers, Steve Briggs’s rigs are deceptively simple.
I’ve never had any rig secrets and long since gave up believing in a wonder rig. Along with my habit of using tight lines, which goes against the grain for many UK carpers, the other subject that always comes up is my simple rigs.
People seem fascinated that they can catch so well all over the world. Well they do just that, but it’s important not to confuse a simple rig with one that has had no thought put into it. Where I’ve arrived at is the result of a lot of experience behind the rods, and I’ve come to use rigs that I feel will do the job for me wherever I go, putting me in with a chance of catching sooner rather than later. The basic rig that I use for 90% of my fishing is just that: basic! But it’s important to understand the thought processes behind anything, so here are the reasons I use this particular setup so much.
To start with it needs to be a rig that I can tie quickly and easily without too many components. While that might sound a bit lazy, it does mean that should I need to change the rig at any time day or night I can do it quickly and without fuss. I have caught carp on more complicated rigs over the years, but in my experience the more complicated a rig is the more that can go wrong with it and the more likely I am not going to change it as often as I should.
I use coated braids for most of my fishing, and why not? They catch thousands of carp every year. My favourite is the Nash Combilink and I use it in 20lb, 25lb and 35lb breaking strains, depending on where I’m fishing. My thoughts on the coating have changed over time. I used to always strip the last inch or so of the coating leading up to the hook, the reason being that I was convinced that the extra suppleness of the stripped section would help the rig twist and turn in the carp’s mouth and help the hook to take hold. It worked well enough, but one session in Hungary made me change my thoughts on that. I was fishing three hookbaits in a straight line quite close together with them all baited exactly the same. The only difference was that two rigs had the coating stripped and for some reason one didn’t. It became quite clear that the one without the coating stripped was going off more than the other two, so at first I swapped the rods around and then I gradually changed the other rods over to rigs without the coating stripped and without a doubt the rig was more effective fished that way. It was a nice reminder that theories don’t always match the reality of real fishing.
It might have been one instance at one lake but it was enough to make me use the rig with the coating left intact on all of the waters I’ve fished since then. The only bit I now strip is the hair and I do wonder if I really need to strip that. Those lessons learned on longer sessions have of course helped on the shorter trips too and it’s more than possible that just changing that one aspect of the rig has caught me a few fish that I might not have caught otherwise.
The hook end
Hooks are a personal choice and I don’t always stick to just one pattern. The ones I use most are the Fang Twister and Fang Uni, both from Nash, and again hook size depends largely on the venue and situation I’m faced with. I don’t tend to use small hooks much. I’m a great believer in using a rig that I feel confident will land the largest fish in the lake, should I be lucky enough to hook it, and for that reason I rarely use anything smaller than a size 6, but on occasions will go right up to a size 2.
The actual arrangement of the hook is something I’ve changed in the last year or two, again through experience on the bank. In the past I always used a basic knotless knot with a small piece of silicone tubing down the shank of the hook to keep the hair tight to the shank. It was a session on the River Ebro in Spain with Nick Shattock that made me have a rethink. We fished our rods side by side and as I was using his gear at the time the only difference in our setups was the rig itself. Nick was using a KD style setup and more or less every bleep was a fish hooked firmly in the bottom lip. I was impressed and although it was only really a slight difference to what I was using, it was not only even simpler than my setup it was also doing a great job. I now use that similar KD style for most of my fishing and I’m more than happy with it.
All waters can be different and the carp in them can feed differently, but as long as the rig works then I feel there’s no need to change anything. I was recently invited to the opening of the new Nash day-ticket lakes at Royston. I only had two nights to try and catch a fish or two, but within half an hour of being there I had the first of five fish on the bank. After that I drove a long way to Italy and, due to unforeseen circumstances, I could only stay one night. I just wanted to catch one before leaving and sure enough I got a lovely 45lb mirror the following morning to make the long journey back a little easier. Just a couple of days ago I had a morning spare, so I got the rods out quickly on one of my local waters and within half an hour I was playing my first fish of the day. The common theme in all of that was the same simple but effective rig. It not only works well but it works quickly too, and that is so important when time is limited.